Sunday, January 23, 2011

Temporary Borders: Foolish and Dangerous

According to Ha'aretz, Avigdor Lieberman is preparing an Israeli offer to recognize a Palestinian state immediately. This state would have temporary borders, and would be made up of just half of the West Bank, would not include East Jerusalem, and its establishment would not require any evacuation of settlements, though it would require a military withdrawal. The permanent borders of the state would be determined in the future final agreement.

This proposal sounds great, except that it isn't really new, and won't be accepted. Proposals for a state with permanent borders have been made, unofficially, in the past. Palestinians rejected them, fearing that in the Middle East, the temporary tends to become permanent. They have also refused the idea of more interim agreements, insisting that what must come next must be the final status treaty. I can understand them. Having just half the West Bank would put them in a kind of limbo, where some Palestinians are independent, while others are still under occupation.

There's also another reason I don't support Lieberman's plan. In a way, I'm more suspicious than the Foreign Minister: If the Palestinians have a state before agreeing in writing that they don't have any more demands from Israel (and in fact, in Lieberman's scheme, Israel agrees that it might give more to Palestine eventually), the world may find it legitimate for the new state to launch a war against Israel if its demands aren't met. For the first time in its military battles against the Palestinians, Israel would be dealing with a sovereign nation, and so would be bound by very different rules. What would we do in such a scenario?

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